Conditional jockey Ryan Mahon demonstrated his value to the Paul Nicholls' stable as he extended the champion trainer's dominance in the StanJames Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury.
Pacha du Polder was making it six Nicholls victories in the Grade Three handicap since Cornish Sett dead-heated back in 2006, and this was the biggest moment in 25-year-old Mahon's career.
Not a model of consistency, Pacha du Polder was revitalised by the application of cheekpieces and his lead was barely challenged throughout the two and a half miles as he came home five lengths clear of Big Fella Thanks.
There were, though, some nasty falls perilously close to Cheltenham for Aidan Coleman (Pepite Rose) Sam Twiston-Davies (Mahogany Blaze) and Nick Scholfield (Micheal Flips). The latter went to hospital for checks.
"That's my first Graded winner," said Mahon.
"He has his good days and his bad days, but he had every chance on a good day and the first-time cheekpieces have really helped him."
Nicholls, who had doubles at both Newbury and Doncaster, had gone to Town Moor along with stable jockey Ruby Walsh.
Asked from there if the result was as much of a surprise as his 18-1 odds, he said: "It was and it wasn't. We've always knew he wanted better ground as he showed how good he could be on it when winning at Ayr last year.
"He ran a shocker when I fancied him in the Old Roan at Aintree and he obviously has his going days. I told Ryan if he was having a going day, to be very positive.
"He won't be going to Cheltenham, but he might go to Ayr or Aintree."
Another style of headgear, this time blinkers, helped stablemate Michel Le Bon (5-1) reverse a landslide of form in the Barbury International Supporting Greatwood Veterans' Handicap Chase.
After starting off the season well with a second place in the Badger Ales at Wincanton, he had been pulled-up on his last two starts but was in a different mindset here as he tracked Tartak and then Hey Big Spender before drawing nine lengths clear.
"He has been dire the last twice but the blinkers have transformed him," said Nicholls.
"I haven't seen a horse work as well in first-time blinkers since we put them on See More Business before the Gold Cup.
"I'll maybe look at something like the Topham but we will sit down and make a proper plan."
Luck was shining on Buck Magic in the Betfair Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, who was left behind when the field set off, only for a false start to be called.
Once they were away again, Michael Byrne made sure the 8-1 shot was always in position and had stole enough of an advantage from well-backed 4-1 favourite Water Garden to stave him off by three and a quarter lengths.
"Sam Twiston-Davies' horse was backing off and backing off, and it had sort of a concertina effect," said Byrne.
"I didn't want to jump off having lost a few lengths and luckily the starter did his job.
"Neil (Mulholland, trainer) asked me if I had a ride in the boys' race at Cheltenham, as if the horse is fresh and well, he could go there."
Meganisi (14-1) was back in front at his favourite course in the Ladbrokes Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
"We were coming back quickly after Taunton but he loves it here - he was second in a Listed race on the Flat and won his novice," said trainer Rebecca Curtis.
"We could run him again on the Flat and he's in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham. He might just get in under a penalty."
Denis O'Regan on runner-up Cry Of Freedom was given a two-day whip ban March 16-17), and Kieron Edgar on fourth-placed The Pier got seven (March 16-22).
Tony Carroll's hot streak continued with Arctic Wings (13-2) in the Charlton Baker Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, but rider Josh Hamer also got a suspension for his use of the whip, running from March 16-19.
Anthony Honeyball's Marie Des Anges could head for the valuable mares' chase back at the course on March 23 after justifying 6-4 favouritism in the Balreed Supporting Greatwood Novices' Handicap Chase.
Dubai Kiss, for new trainer Harry Whittington, made his 50-1 odds look a giveaway in the WBRC Pam Le Mottee junior bumper.